Down but not out: Sony turns profit on Xperia phones for first time since 2017

Sony Xperia 5 II reflective rear

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • For the first time since 2017, the Sony Xperia smartphone division turned a profit.
  • However, the division also sold fewer phones than it has over the past decade: 2.9 million phones in all of 2020.
  • Sony was able to turn a profit by cutting costs and increasing the average selling price of its products.

Every year since 2014, Sony has sold fewer smartphones than it had in the prior year. Sales dwindled so much that the entire smartphone division became a money pit, only kept afloat by Sony subsidizing it with profits from its highly lucrative gaming division.

However, that’s changed slightly (via Xperia Blog). In Sony’s fiscal 2020, the Sony Xperia smartphone division actually turned a profit of 27.7 billion Japanese yen (~$254 million). That’s the first time since 2017 that Sony hasn’t lost money through selling phones.

Now, you might think that this means Sony sold more smartphones than it did in its fiscal 2019. That isn’t the case, though. In fact, Sony sold fewer smartphones in 2020 than it has for any year prior during the last decade: just 2.9 million units. For the sake of comparison, check out this chart:

Xperia Blog Units Shipped FY20 by year

Credit: Xperia Blog

If the Sony Xperia division sold fewer phones, how did it make more money? It did so by cutting the costs for producing and selling those phones while simultaneously raising their average selling price. Apparently, even Sony was surprised by how well this strategy worked, with an exec noting that the results “exceeded our initial expectations” on an earnings call earlier today.

Sony has already announced its 2021 flagships for this year: the Sony Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III. Both phones will be available to buy in the summer.

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